What Is Digital Twinning?
Digital Twinning is the process of creating, observing and manipulating a virtual replica of a real-world mechanical part, assembly or system. Through the application of advanced data gathering techniques and artificial intelligence the digital twin can be used to mimic or predict the function of (or the presumed wear-and-tear on) its physical counterpart.
Why Is Digital Twinning So Important?
A digital twin, as a ‘live’ representation of reality, enables organizations to better utilize the massive amount of data that is collected throughout a product’s lifetime. Done properly, the interpretation of this data can be invaluable to organizations that rely on artificial intelligence platforms to plan for and make decisions regarding things like repair and replacement intervals, maintenance scheduling and obsolescence planning.
Can Digital Twins Be Used to Assist in Design and Test?
Digital twins can be initiated and utilized at any point throughout the course of any product’s lifecycle:
- DESIGN: Digital representations can be used to simulate and optimize a product (size, fit, operating parameters, etc.) and even its production system before having to invest in physical prototypes and assets.
- TEST: Through digital twinning an engineer can incorporate multi-physics simulation, analytics, machine learning, etc. to show the impact of any design change, repair, usage scenario, environmental condition, and accurately predict the outcome of endless variable scenarios. This helps eliminate the need for wear-and-tear on the physical prototype, which helps to reduce development time and costs, downtime for repairs – ultimately improving the efficiency and quality of the development process and the final product.
What Are the Different Types of Digital Twins?
There are three main types of digital twins:
- PRODUCT: Digital twinning is used to virtually validate a given product’s performance.
- PRODUCTION: Digital twinning can help to validate how effective a manufacturing process will be before actually putting it into production.
- PERFORMANCE: Digital twinning captures and analyzes massive amounts of data regarding the utilization, effectiveness, and performance of an asset and provides actionable information from which an educated decision can be made about the best way to move forward without wasting time and money.
The combination and integration of these three digital twin processes is commonly referred to as a digital thread. This is because they bring all the data from each stage of the product and production lifecycle together.
Is Digital Twinning Applicable to Aircraft?
When the same data points that are used when building and monitoring an aircraft throughout its lifecycle are used to build 3D digital twin models, the digital twins can be used to monitor and track the condition of any aircraft engine or airframe in virtual real-time. The software handling the digital twin can collect and relay status, predictions and even early warning information to the airlines, OEMs, and MROs, providing critical business information about the aircraft throughout its lifecycle.
Engineers can then proactively develop an action plan for each possible behavioral scenario for each potential situation such as the weather, the aircraft’s performance and operations, etc.
How Do I Find the Best Digital Twinning Solution for My Business?
Through its potential to keep an aircraft and its systems/components/parts in service longer and avoid expensive delays in maintenance and repair efforts, the time savings, cost savings, and efficiency improvements when using digital twinning are substantial. Many large companies have achieved major benefits through its proper application.
When looking for a suitable digital twinning solution for your business, there are several factors to consider:
- RELATABLE AND EXPANDABLE: Any digital twinning solution you are considering should be capable of collecting, monitoring and displaying a wide array of data directly related to the parts and systems that your company creates or manages. Many outside factors may eventually need to be considered when deciding what it will require to build and manage a digital twin, such as production and manufacturing concerns, replacement part lifecycles and inventory levels, supply chain systems, etc.
- SUPERIOR DATA PROCESSING CAPABILITIES: Your chosen digital twinning solution, in conjunction with any network systems you have in place, should be able to easily process large volumes of data simultaneously for proper real-time processing.
- ANALYTICS AND FEEDBACK: In order to bolster the return on your investment your chosen solution should offer a variety of applicable analytics tools and algorithms that are suitable to your program requirements. They should also be able to provide real-time feedback and actionable information as necessary.
- CUSTOMIZABLE: Before committing to any digital twinning solution, you should confirm that the one you are considering offers customizable solutions. For example, do they have customizable dashboards, built-in alerts, and settings that are specific to your business? Additionally, specific settings and program parameters should be configurable and work seamlessly around your requirements.
- EASY TO USE INTERFACE: The interface for any digital twin solution you are considering should be clear, concise, intuitive, and easy to navigate for everyone who will be using it.
If you would like more information about digital twinning and how it could be used to improve your businesses costs and performance, please feel free to reach out to JANA. Our consultants would be happy to share their significant knowledge with you.
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